Quite a few fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers were probably expecting the team to select a wide receiver at some point during the 2018 NFL Draft. Many, however, were probably expecting the Steelers to select a wide receiver with some nice height and blazing speed during this year’s draft and especially after the team traded wide receiver Martavis Bryant to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.
While the Steelers ultimately drafted a wide receiver in the second-round, the one that they selected, Oklahoma State product James Washington, is neither very tall nor very fast on paper. Washington, however, played much taller and must faster than his measurables might suggest during his four seasons at Oklahoma State. In fact, of the first 10 wide receivers selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, Washington not only possesses the second-best yards per reception stat of the group, he also averaged the most receptions of 25 yards or longer per game during his college career.
Not only did Washington register an astounding 57 receptions that resulted in gains of 25 yards or longer during his four years at Oklahoma State, most of those receptions came via passes thrown way down the field. In short, most of Washington’s big plays during his college career did not come as a result of long runs following short receptions via quick slants or wide receiver screens.
To better illustrate the amazing big play college career that Washington had at Oklahoma State and how those big plays followed reception way down the field, below is a breakdown of the 19 receptions he had that gained 25 yards or more from the 2017 season. This breakdown of these plays includes data such as quarter, down, distance needed, and the original line of scrimmage. Additionally, I have included the distance past the line of scrimmage that each football was caught in addition to the yards gained after each reception.
Amazingly, 15 of the 19 total receptions that Washington registered during Oklahoma State’s 2017 season included him catching the football more than 25 yards past the original line of scrimmage. In fact, those 19 receptions included Washington catching the football 34.4 yards past the original line of scrimmage, on average. That’s a pretty impressive stat.
If you click the link included in each play-by-play description, it will take to the video footage of the actual play so that you can see the context of each. Notice in each one the kind of coverage and defense that Washington and the Oklahoma State offense is facing and how the wide receiver is able to win each time.
A few things that stick out about Washington and especially in these 19 plays from last season, is that he lined up on the right side of the formation on every one of them. Additionally, all but one of these 19 big plays listed below came on either first or second downs.
I didn’t have time to research Washington’s deep pass reception percentage ahead of writing this post, but I will certainly have those stats for you, along with several others, whenever I am finished charting all of his career college games. For now, I just wanted you to see the kind of big play production Washington had during his college career and how he went about achieving it.
RECEIVING STATS OF FIRST 10 WIDE RECEIVERS SELECTED IN 2018 NFL DRAFT PER cfbstats.com
2017 25-PLUS YARD RECEPTION DATA FOR JAMES WASHINGTON